Ask any Howard County divorce attorney what documents you need to bring in to review, and the overwhelming answer will be financial documents. But that is certainly not all. Your divorce attorney will want to scrutinize your emails, texts, Facebook posts and private messages, as well as your tweets, pictures and videos. In other words, if it is out there, your divorce attorney will want to see it.
How people act both before and during their divorce can affect how judges view issues within the divorce case, including but not limited to custody, parenting schedules, alimony and the division of assets.
One of the more cliché uses is to detect in an affair or inappropriate relationship using emails, texts, cell phone records or other forms of communication. You would not believe the types of inappropriate things people say and pictures and videos that divorce attorneys mine from Facebook posts or tweets.
From the angry rant to the confessional, we see it all.
Once upon a time, there were private investigators who would follow your spouse to see if there was infidelity. Today, the world is far more sophisticated. Now we have experts who can go into any form of communication-and find whatever is there.
What can these experts uncover? Their services can include computer forensics, cell phone forensics, Internet investigations, and so much more. Many of these experts tend to be former FBI or other law enforcement officials, who have extensive training to find “whatever is there.”
How about the example of the spouse who files a financial statement under oath in Court, saying they have no assets. Imagine their surprise when the investigator uncovers the Facebook private message to a friend, boasting about the new business they started and how successful it is.
Websites are often fertile grounds for uncovering truths. It is difficult to claim your business has no value in a divorce when your company website boasts of your profitability and high sales.
When you interview your divorce attorney, bring to their attention whether you believe there are skeletons or other hidden facts, and your attorney can help you engage one of these experts.
One caveat is very important. There is a correct way to gather these documents, and there is an incorrect way. Hacking into personal data that does not belong to you can often lead to the threat of criminal charges. More importantly, in a divorce case, it truly reflects on your credibility as a spouse, and sometimes, as a parent. Take care to do things right.